A little under 10 years ago, following two days of interviews and other selection tasks, I received a phone call from Mr. Wilks offering me a job as Deputy Headteacher at Oaks Park High School. By the time the call came through I already knew I was going to bite his hand off if the job was offered, so in the time it took to say ‘Yes’ I became a member of the school staff and began working at what was going to be the last school that I would work full time in.
Oaks Park is my 8th school in the 40 years I have been a teacher, and I can safely say that, although I have always enjoyed working in every one of those schools, this is where I have been happiest and it is clearly with a strange sense of adventure, fear and excitement that I now move on and into the next stage of my working life.
Oaks Park already had a special atmosphere when I visited it before making my application, and I am immensely proud to have been, I hope, part of a continuation of that unique blend of strong relationships, high levels of aspiration and general interest that everyone has for the welfare of each other. A particular highlight was Ofsted telling us what we already knew – namely that we were Outstanding, and I like to think that I have played a small part, along with everyone else, in developing and maintaining that unique Oaks Park way of life.
Everyone in a school, to some extent, is moving through. Students typically arrive and stay for 7 years before going out into the big wide world. Teaching colleagues arrive and stay for a range of time, and although a large number of staff have started since my arrival, there are still many staff who were here when I arrived.
What will I be moving off to do? Well, there are two answers to that question. Firstly, my wife and I intend to do a bit of the travelling that we have not yet done. Nothing terribly exotic is planned at present, but with one daughter living in Canada and the other in Kent there will be more chance to see them. Secondly, I don’t feel completely ready to move out of education and I am planning to work in support of teacher development with a Trust in Norfolk that oversees a number of schools in and around Norwich.
There are two things that I am very confident about.
Firstly, in my view, Oaks Park is set to reach levels of achievement we have never seen before. I expect that in the next five years we will be at the very forefront of all the exceptional schools that make up Redbridge – consistently one of the most successful boroughs in the country. Secondly, it won’t be long before I’m back to visit, and to see all the students and staff who make life here so special. Until then, have a great holiday and I’ll see you all in the new year.